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China's Environmental Quality Remains Steady
China's environmental quality remained at the level of 2001 though the NGP grew at a rate of 8% and the population growth registered a 6.45 per thousand in 2002, an environmental status bulletin for 2002 that was announced by the SEPA on June 5 indicated.

Generally speaking, the volume of COD emitted in the wastewater, the amount of sulfur dioxide in the waste gas, smokes and industrial dust and the volume of solid waste discharged were cut. The water quality in the nation's three major rivers and lakes remained steady. The air quality in some of the cities improved while the ecological construction had made headway. However, the ecological situation brooks no optimism.

29.1% of the sections of the nation's seven major river systems met the state-prescribed standards for first to third class quality, 30% for fourth to fifth class quality and 40.9% for bad fifth class quality. The pollution by nitrogen and phosphorus in the major lakes was fairly serious, leading to outstanding eutrophication. The water in the main tributaries into the Three Gorges Reservoir was third class in quality and the pollution in the valley of the project (the eastern line) to divert water in the south to the north was fairly serious. The quality of the underground water in most of the nation's cities and regions was generally good.

The environmental quality in the sea remained in a fairly good shape. The sea area that failed to meet the first class quality came to 175,000 square kilometers and the area that came under the bad fourth class category dropped, as compared with the previous year.

The air quality in the Chinese cities generally turned to the better. However, two thirds of the cities failed to meet the second class standard for air quality. The culprit was the fine particulate matter in the air. The pollution by sulfur dioxide in some of the cities was serious and there were serious acid rains in the south.

Among the 325 cities that were monitored for traffic noise, it was serious in 4.9%, mildly serious in 17.2% and lightly polluted or good in the rest. Among the 319 cities that were monitored for environmental noise, it was serious in 3.4%, mildly serious in 44.2%, lightly polluted in 48.6% and good in 3.8%.

China produced 950 million tons of industrial solid waste, 6.5% higher than in the previous year, 26.352 million tons of solid waste, 8.9% less. China utilized 500 million tons of industrial solid waste with a rate of 52%. The output of dangerous solid waste was 10 million tons, at the same level as in the previous year.

The continental gamma radiation air absorbed dose was at the local natural radiation background level and the concentration of the radioactive radionuclide in the environmental media remained within the fluctuation range of the natural background.

The arable land fell by 1.6862 million hectares, as compared with the previous year. Of the amount, 1.4255 million hectares were those that turned to forested or grass land for ecological purposes. Soil erosion covered 3.56 million hectares. China boasts of 1757 nature reserves with a total area of 132.945 million hectares, accounting for 13.2% of the national territory.

The nation's forested land amounted to 158.9409 million hectares with a forest coverage of 16.55%. The forested acreage and the standing reserve of timber both grew. The growth of timber outstripped consumption. There was no real turn for the better in excessive grazing and the worsening trend had not yet been contained though grassland eco-environment had partially improved.

The temperature in most parts of the nation was higher than normal and the rainfalls were higher than normal in some and remained at the normal level in others. Drought and water logging were the major climatic disasters.

(www.cenews.com.cn June 9, 2003)

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